This is the top question that we get from everyone who has been a part of our baby-making adventure, and so here is a thorough explanation of why we ended up choosing Ukraine for surrogacy.
First, we looked into the process of surrogacy in the US, and found it to be overwhelmingly expensive ($60 – 150k), which was a factor, unless you have a kind family member or friend that is willing to carry it for you. If things go wrong, such as a surrogate backing out, or unfortunate situations like a miscarriage, you automatically have to pay at least $5k to match with another surrogate and do their health workup through the agency. It just seemed that there were so many costs that could be added at any time, and it seemed so unreasonable that most of that cost was going to the agency or lawyer, rather than the surrogate, who receives on average of $20 – 30k for the pregnancy. What also bothered us was that in some states, surrogate mothers retain a parental right to the child, and can even pursue custody. Even though the embryos placed in the surrogate have both of our DNA, the surrogate mother’s name is on the birth certificate, and then you have to go through the process of adopting the baby in court. The biggest factor of all for us, though, is time. All of the legal paperwork, signing a contract, matching a surrogate, having the surrogate go through the work-up, and so on, and next thing you know, it’s been a year or two since you started the process. Having already put in 5 years, we weren’t willing to wait for an indefinite amount of time again.
Discouraged, we started to look into surrogacy overseas. There were so many options, but some were very sketchy, and we definitely read our share of horror stories about Thailand and India, both of which, as a result, have shut down their surrogacy practices not too long ago. After much gleaning in forums, it became clear that Ukraine was our best choice. First, it is relatively affordable, with all-inclusive plans starting at 32k up to 50k, which covers absolutely everything outside of your plane tickets, such as transportation, food, accommodations, all things that involve IVF for you if you are using your own eggs, surrogate screening and medical costs, and birth at the hospital. It is also the same price if you choose to use donor eggs instead, which is a nice back-up plan to have if things don’t work out with your own, at no additional cost. This blew us away, because we hadn’t seen this kind of all-inclusive plan anywhere else, and the best part about it is that they guarantee you a baby, because if the first surrogate doesn’t work out, they will try again with another using your frozen embryos until they are successful. We have encountered other couples who chose Ukraine purely for the guarantee factor of a baby, which can sound strange to some, but for us, it was like music to our ears! Also, it seems like Ukraine is one of the few places where the laws favor the intended parents rather than the surrogate. Under Ukrainian law, the baby is ours from the moment of conception. Once the baby is born, the birth certificate is issued with our names, and the surrogate cannot claim any rights. Lastly, we could rest with the thought that time-wise, pregnancy could start right after embryos are created, as many women participate in surrogacy in Ukraine. Everyone that we had spoken to had been successful with the first try, if not the second, so that was very appealing to us, as we had also considered adoption at one point, but knew from family members that it could take quite some time for that to happen as well.
One additional fact that we also liked is that we can pay the surrogate directly, which assures us that they are being paid well for their efforts, and aren’t abused by the agency. The average monthly income for Ukraine is around $200, so the compensation can change the lives of their family for the better.
Still, we weren’t 100% sure until we came across Shabana’s blog, a sweet woman in the UK, who was already going through the process with BioTexCom, and was able to answer all of our questions. If you do end up being interested in using this particular clinic, we highly recommend contacting her first before contacting the clinic, as she has relationships within the clinic, and will get you faster responses than if you had contacted the clinic yourself. She also has a network of folks all around the world who are pursuing surrogacy in Ukraine, which ended up being extremely helpful. Shabana was able to connect us to a couple from Seattle who just took home their twins last week. The father of the twins took the time to talk on the phone, and thoroughly reassured us that it was a legit legal process, and that medically, they are very sound and advanced, and that bringing the twins back to the US hadn’t been an issue at all.
After some more discussion, we were sold and decided to go for it. After all, even if we had decided to pursue adoption, we would’ve probably paid a similar amount of money at the end of it all, and would be waiting a lot longer, most likely. As for US surrogacy, it is half the price, and nowhere near the hassle.
To be fair, there are other clinics in Ukraine that are great as well, and you will find similar plans there. The reason we chose BioTexCom is because we independently read a lot of great reviews online, even before meeting Shabana. There isn’t as much info in the US forums as there are in European forums, as Ukraine is only a two or three hour flight for most, and since they are in different languages, we had to use Google Translate to gather the intel on some the forums. This is why we wanted to document our experience, so that others in the US could find it useful for their own fertility plans!